The Japan Drag Racing Drivers Association (JDDA) was established to provide a structured competition for professional and amateur drag racers all over Japan. The competition is divided into East and West divisions with four rounds in the East and three in the West. The classes are as follows:
JDDA East – PRO 8/8.5, PRO 9/9.5, Open 10/11/12/13, R30 Class, Time Attack
JDDA West – PRO 8, PRO 9/9.5, Open 10/11/12/13, Open V8, Open NA, Time Attack
Each event comprises of elimination heats for each class followed by a semi-final and final with races run under E.T. Bracket rules. Points are awarded at each event and a champion is determined by the accumulation of points over the season. Restrictions are placed on car type as only vehicles with doors for driver and passengers are allowed. Drag slicks are accepted for all PRO classes and Open V8, but only DOT approved tires are allowed in other classes. If a car exceeds 200km/h over the quarter mile a 6-point roll cage is required.
JDDA West Round 1
The first round for 2009 of the JDDA West Championship was held at Central Circuit, right in the center of Hyogo Prefecture in central Japan. It was a beautiful day with the sun shining and the temperature hovering around 18 degrees Celsius. A reasonable amount of people turned out for the event although there were less spectators than I expected. It seems that the JDDA has had some trouble getting enough exposure in Japan with most of the attention going to the MFJ/BERC Drag Championship, drifting and circuit racing. The spectators that did turn up were all connected to the teams in one way or another so I guess any extra publicity that the JDDA gets is good publicity!
We arrived early and were there to walk around the garages while the competitors were having the pre-race meeting. There was a fantastic mix of cars from 9-second Nissan Skyline GT-Rs to old school American muscle cars. There were even small Kei (lightweight) cars competing including the infamous Baby Cobra 40.27ci! All of the PRO 8, PRO 9 and PRO 9.5 cars were powered by Nissan’s RB26DETT with either a big single turbo or smaller twin turbo set ups. Several stand out cars such as the Decide 226 BNR32 Skyline GT-R, the Active Sports BCNR33 Skyline GT-R, the Garage Endless Street Drag BNR32 Skyline GT-R and the T-Craft BNR32 Skyline GT-R were all grouped together in the “PRO 9” section, all running deep in the 9 second bracket.
After a few practice runs by some of the faster cars to adjust their launch setups, it was straight into the elimination round. The Open 10 and 11 classes had the most competitors and was quite entertaining to watch, especially the Garage Endless Street Drag S15 Silvia which almost hit the right side barrier after a very shaky run to half track. The American muscle cars (almost all in the Open 12 class) provided a lot of entertainment in the burnout area with Tsuyoshi Kitao and his Plymouth Satellite wagon spending what seemed like minutes sitting there lighting up the rear tires. There were quite a few red light disqualifications so some competitors were able to go through to the final without trying at all, Masuya Gotou in the Endless BNR32 GT-R being one of them. It was during the PRO 9 heats that the T-Craft BNR32 GT-R retired with a broken driveshaft and having to be pushed off of the strip by team members. It’s a shame because the T-Craft car was running very strongly up until that moment, with massive wheel spinning and flame spitting launches from the lights.
The Time Attack classes (Kei Car and Open) were run after the elimination rounds and it was great to see the Baby Cobra pull off some relatively quick passes, especially as it is powered by a tiny supercharged 3 cylinder Suzuki Cappuccino engine! Its best time for the day was a very respectable 14.851 and it did some decent burnouts too despite having some huge tires. Some of the other Time Attack cars ran some quick passes too with most of them in the 14 second bracket. There were about 5 Suzuki Cappuccinos in attendance and after seeing them first hand on the drag strip, I can understand their appeal as a relatively cheap and easy to maintain RWD sports car.
After the lunch break the action was on again with the Open 10, Open 11, Open 12, Open NA and Open V8 classes having their semi-final rounds. The PRO 9 and 9.5 class skipped the semis and only had finals due to there not being enough competitors. The Open NA class was a joy to watch, it was very competitive with a great rivalry going on between the GC10 Skylines and S30 Fairlady Zs. The sound of the L28 engines with triple Solex carburettors hitting 8,000rpm is something I won’t forget easily. Another car which was great to see was Manabu Kasafuji’s FORT FC3S RX-7 with incredibly hard launches every time. The setup on that car must’ve been perfect for the conditions because the car just squatted down on its rear wheels and gripped the track… some of the other JZA80 Supras and FD3S RX-7s in the Open 10 class had a lot of difficulty getting traction off the line.
The finals started quite early at 3pm and if you blinked you could’ve missed it! Before we had time to get into position already the first final had begun. There were a couple of red light disqualifications but otherwise there were no retirements during the finals. The results for the classes are as follows:
Keiichi Sarasawa – Nanseibankin KGC10 Nissan Skyline, 12.454 secs. (11.961 dial in)
Hiroyuki Sugino – Plymouth Barracuda, 13.416 secs. (12.566 dial in)
Hiromitsu Kagawa – CREWCH RPS13 180SX, 13.213 secs. (12.294 dial in)
Shinichi Oshio – Original Racing S13 Silvia CA18DET, 11.663 secs. (11.143 dial in)
Hironori Wakatsuki – Wakatsuki Drag-R BCNR33 GT-R, 10.879 secs. (10.201 dial in)
Takuya Hatanaka – D2 Motor @Works BNR34 GT-R, 10.782 secs. (9.899 dial in)
(Opponent was disqualified – red light)
Masaya Gotou – Garage Endless Drag-R BNR32 GT-R, 9.911 secs. (9.238 dial in)
It was a great day, the weather was fine, the people were very friendly and the racing was very competitive in most classes, except for PRO 9.5 with only two entries, one of which was red light disqualified sending Takuya Hatanake in the D2 Motor BNR34 GT-R to the class win after only two races. It was a very professional and smooth running event put on by the JDDA and the whole day was over 10 minutes ahead of schedule! One thing that did concern me a little was the apparent lack of safety barriers separating the spectators from the cars. Just a few poles were put in place with a rope tied between them was the only “protection” if anything was to go wrong. Nothing did go wrong though and I must admit, I would never be able to get that close to the cars at any other circuit I’m sure. With summer just around the corner the next round looks to be a promising one.
Words/Images: Justin Karow